Swiss-Singaporean software company Acronis will continue with new hirings, aiming to reach a headcount of 1,000 in its Sofia research and development (R&D) centre by the end of 2022, CEO Sergei Beloussov told SeeNews.
“We will keep hiring, but the main issue is to find the right people” Beloussov told SeeNews in a March interview.
Acronis currently employs some 300 people in its Sofia R&D centre, a core one for the company. After the successful implementation of the company’s hiring plans a half of its global headcount will be based in Bulgaria.
Yet, some underlying problems persist in the sector. Even though Acronis sees Bulgaria as a good place for finding talent, the available talent pool is limited.
“There are very few software companies which are at scale, so there are not so many people who are experienced in the development of leading software,” Beloussov explained.
“We are experiencing problems with hiring the talents. There are a lot of highly qualified specialists with good technical skills in IT. They may be extraordinarily capable people, but yet not talented. Or they may be talented, but not brilliant. We are looking for the best software engineers, the top talents. Those unique top talents are rare in the world, but they exist and they are of tremendous importance to technology companies who depend on them. So we will keep looking,” Beloussov said.
Acronis considers four ways of tackling the problem: introducing different employee benefits, partnering up with Bulgarian universities, providing training courses and certifications, and relocating employees to Sofia from its offices across the globe.
Last year, Bulgaria’s economy ministry said that Acronis will invest some 1.2 million levs ($681,400/613,500 euro) in the expansion of the Sofia R&D centre, to establish a European centre for cyber protection, artificial intelligence and blockchain projects.
In September, Acronis received a $147 million (131.7 million euro) investment round from New York-headquartered banking, securities and investment management firm Goldman Sachs. The investment round set the valuation of Acronis at over $1.0 billion and enabled the company to expand its engineering teams in Singapore, where the company was originally founded, along with Bulgaria and the US state of Arizona.
Following the financing, Acronis has the opportunity to grow through acquisitions and is already doing so. In December, Acronis acquired Florida-based software company 5nine and is already considering the purchase of a company located in Southeast Europe (SEE), Beloussov said, adding that he can not reveal any details yet.
Taking into account the important role of academic institutions in attracting the right employees, Beloussov moves forward with his plans to help establish a branch of Schaffhausen Institute of Technology (SIT) in Bulgaria’s capital. The opening of the Sofia branch will most likely happen next year, the CEO noted, saying that this is a separate project that may help Acronis in some way, but it was not meant to resolve Acronis' issue with finding talent.
“However it will most definitely help us collaborate with Sofia Technical University and the University of Sofia. We will have an opportunity to attract the brightest people from those universities,” Beloussov also said.
Regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Beloussov said: “Yes, it is not a good situation and it will definitely affect our growth plans. But we are growing really fast - our target is to grow by 50% this year, so even if we grow 20 points less than that, it is still 30% growth. And even growing by half of that target, it is still 25% growth”
However, Beloussov does not believe that the coronavirus crisis will affect the company’s hiring plans and thinks that finding the top talents across the globe is the main challenge to Acronis’ growth and it is not related to the current economic situation in the world.
“We are much more limited by our ability to hire than by the economy but it is definitely not good, the general crisis is not good,” Beloussov opined.
On March 23, Bulgaria’s health ministry said that the number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country has increased to 201, including three deaths related to the disease as well as three recoveries. On March 13, the parliament backed a government proposal to declare a state of emergency until April 13, aiming to enable the authorities to more efficiently fight the coronavirus spread.
Acronis’ revenue on the Bulgarian market is quite small but the company is in Bulgaria not to sell, but to buy - to buy working time, the CEO explained. The company’s business in Bulgaria is growing very fast - by 150%-300% a year, whereas Acronis’ entire business is expanding at an annual rate of 50%, Beloussov noted.
In 2018, Acronis acquired Bulgarian software engineering company T-Soft following a successful partnership with it. After the conclusion of the deal, T-Soft was renamed to Acronis Bulgaria. Acronis Bulgaria said in 2018 that it plans to invest $50 million in the development of its Sofia R&D centre over the following three years.
Acronis, founded in 2003, is active in cyber protection and hybrid cloud storage technology. Enhanced by AI-based Active Protection technology, blockchain-based authentication and hybrid-cloud architecture, Acronis protects all data in any environment, including physical, virtual, cloud, mobile workloads and applications.